Sunday, October 31, 2010

Enrst Bloch's "The Principle of Hope."

The Principle of Hope: Ernst Bloch.

Ernst Bloch was born on July 8, 1885 in Ludwigshafen, Germany and died on August 4, 1977 in Stuttgart. He was a German Marxist philosopher whose Philosophie der Hoffnung (Philosophy of Hope) was intended to complete what he considered Marxism's partial outlook on reality. His major work, to this regard was his three volume work Das Prinzip Hoffnung (The Principle of Hope [1954–59]). Hope played an essential role in the moral and political writings of Ernst Bloch. Bloch regarded hope as concerned with a longing for utopia. In Bloch, the Christian connection between hope, on the one hand, and faith and love, on the other, remained. Although he did not oppose these categories to reason, he sought to ‘subsume’ them under it. In “The Principle of Hope,” he made the human emotion of expectation, which he called “hope”, the object of profound philosophical investigation, to chart a memoranda for understanding the movement forward into the future.

As morality became separated from theology during the Enlightenment hope became less important in ethics. There are, however, three notable exceptions to this general trend: Immanuel Kant, Ernst Bloch, and Gabriel Marcel. In each of these writers the connection between hope, on the one hand, and morality, religion and faith, on the other, is as tight as it was for Augustine. However Bloch interpreted religion and faith neither as revealed nor as metaphysically proven, but as reasoned, and contrasts both hope and faith to human desiring and calculating, i.e., to instrumental rationality.

Bloch was a Marxist theoretician who preferred to concentrate on the possibilities in the world and to link the power of hope to the role of the future in our thinking (especially of the not yet). Bloch had a perspective on hope that is naturalistic. He built a philosophy that is centered on hope, taking his inspiration from Marx. For Bloch, therefore, hope is the human emotion of expectation directed against fear and anxiety, the “pioneering existence which we humans lead on the foremost frontier of the world process.” It is creative expectation. To hope “belongs the knowledge that in the outside world life is as unfinished as in the Ego that works in that outside world”

According to Bloch man is called to “plunge beyond the horizon into that very difficult sphere of reality, the sphere of the novum. And this is not the reality which is being present (Vorhanden-Sein), nor of the reality in Process (im Prozess-Sein), but the reality of not yet (noch nicht Sein). This is the sphere of the novum, the place where deeds are measured, the realm of fear as well as hope.” Man is called to realize himself in the future. This is because man is an incomplete being, something which still must be found. The ideal of the human essence has not yet come to be in reality. This is why man has an inner drive towards the future, towards a fulfillment in the future, a drive which he must take hold of and direct with courage and in risk. Philosophy and other works of art are therefore aids to man in attaining this task.

Consequently, Ernst Bloch took a Hegelian approach to religion. He conceived God not as radically opposed to the human subject, as the absolutely Other, in the way Kierkegaard does, but as a human ideal. For him there is thus no God, the world is sufficient for itself. He sees faith in God is a hypostatized longing for a utopian form of existence. God or the Dialectical Reality, for him, is characterized by hunger, a tendency towards the future, towards the new. Once this hypostatization is recognized for what it is, the concept of “God becomes the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God no longer contains a God.” In the subject man, this hunger can become hope. God embodies the hope for an ideal but thoroughly human kingdom. The world is not yet completely determined. There are conditions yet unknown to us, or that do not yet exist. We live surrounded by possibility. Reality is not static, simple or solid. It has no definitive dimension. Hence contingency is also part of Reality. Man must therefore always create utopias, for “utopia is the place where the not-yet-conscious makes its appearance.”

Hoping, therefore, means viewing the “world as a task or as a model” which is not at hand. In order for this endeavour to succeed, man needs a hope that is based on a speculative, metaphysical science that brings to man’s consciousness the fact that the present/Reality is constantly surrounded by possibility, a possibility that is dynamically teleological. For Bloch, the “Not-Yet-Being” activates a hunger in man, which consequently allows hope to burst forth the more clearly allowing the future, this “Not-Yet-Being”, to enter into the fluid present with enough consistency to give a whole new thrust to life, characterized by liberty. Hope at this stage initiates a creative process, it taps the resources already present and at work in the real, the Dialectical Reality. At this stage too, utopias, a process of transformation ensue that would initiate the fatherland, wherein man would be one with nature and nature humanized. This is the real eschatology. However, man is needed for all these to come into being, he must make the decision about and for the unknown, which is a “determination which posits no hereafter, no above, but, instead, a possible before us”. Nonetheless, he needs courage too to accept the challenge of hope and the inevitable risk involved in building the future.

Bloch’s anthropological interpretation of religion owes a great deal to Feuerbach. He was, however, deeply critical of Feuerbach for eliminating all traces of the transcendent from religion. The human perfection which Feuerbach saw man as projecting onto God is not “reappropriated” in Bloch. He recognizes a projection in the form of the promise of human perfection. This promise of perfection is the transcendent element which remains in religion, even after its “anthropologization.” For him, “religion is hope, and hope is grounded in the ontic difference between what exists and what does not exist … both in man and in the cosmos. Man is an entity whose being is not yet fully fashioned in himself, a task to be worked at …and a great container of the future …. Part of hope is the knowledge that life outside is just as unfinished a thing as the ego that is helping to fashion it. Thus religion, inasmuch as it offers hope, is grounded in the process character of man and the world.” God is the homo absconditus of the future, as yet unfounded and unachieved. God is reduced to the unfounded future of man that lies ahead, God is the utopian hypostasized ideal of the unknown man.

“Bloch’s main critics included orthodox Marxists such as Manfred Buhr (1970), who were deeply suspicious of religious utopias. They see religion as tranquillizing, and socially stabilizing, as the ‘opium of the people’. Bloch acknowledged this conservative tendency within religion, but also interpreted the revolutionary tendency of religious hope as the most extreme manifestation of dissatisfaction with, and rebellion against, the present. For Bloch, religious utopias, especially the Christian utopia of the kingdom of God, express revolutionary hope for an utterly different and better form of existence. They are not merely tranquillizing, but in principle transforming.” This goal of a better form of existence for man, the regnum humanum, elicited in hope, for him, is not illusory. In fact he claimed that traces of it can be found in the Soviet revolutions.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Marks of The Church

The Marks of The Church

1.0. Introduction.
The Church is a continuation of the incarnation of Christ and also shares in the characteristics of the incarnation. That is to say it has a human and a divine element, a visible and an invisible element. It is so closely associated with Christ that it can truly be called the bride of Christ, and his mystical body, animated by the Holy Spirit with the divine life of grace. This spiritual Church of Christ is not independent of the visible and exterior structures of the Church as a society made up of men. It was Christ’s will and making that the church carry on his work as a visible organized society, like a city set on a mountain, since it was to be a necessary means for salvation for all men. For this reason, he gave it a visible supreme head and hierarchical government (in the person of St. Peter and the apostles, and their successors: the Roman Pontiff and the bishops throughout the world) (Clarkson, J. F., S.J. et al (eds), The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, 1973). Moreover Christ promised these rulers his efficacious and perpetual assistance in carrying out his work of teaching the revealed truth unerringly, of ruling wisely, and of sanctifying effectively. (Mk. 16: 13).

Such is the Church of Christ which endures through all the ages one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic. It is always unchanged in its essence; yet it always accommodates itself to the variety of times and conditions in which it lives, so that it can effectively be what it truly is, the unique and necessary ark of salvation for all. It is itself a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable proof of its own divine mission.

2.0. The Church – A definitive Attempt
Attempts to define the Church has always been incomplete. What many have always ended doing has been to give the descriptions of the Church through its models, attributes or marks. The word “church”, in its equivalents in the Latin “ecclesia” and the Greek “Ek kaleo”, means “to call out of”, “to assemble”, “an assembly”. Without concerning ourselves with its technical signification due to the nature of this seminar, we prefer to consider the “Church” as used in the Christian sense as the assembly of the people of God, the assembly of God, “ekklesia tou theou” (Komonchak, J., et al, The New Dictionary of Theology, Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 2003). In short, the church is that visible organization through which Christ its founder communicates truth and grace to all men. At the Second Vatican Council the doctrine of the Church received much attention, particularly in Lumen Gentium. In this constitution, the Council affirmed that the Church is in the first place that assembly of people, united in Christ, and that is called into existence by God Himself (Flannery, A., (ed), Vatican Council II; The Conciliar and Post conciliar Documents, Lumen Gentium (LG), Mumbai: St. Paul’s Publication, 2007, n. 2). An image of the Church much favored by the Council was that of “People of God,” evoking a dynamic and communitarian understanding of the Church.

3.0. The Marks of the Church.
What is the essence of any consideration on the marks of the Church? By marks of the church, we refer to characteristics or qualities of the Church which identify her as the true Church, belonging entirely to Christ, and serving as His instrument of salvation in the world. There are four marks, or signs, of the Church: She is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” The First Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) used this phrase in formalizing the Nicene Creed. These four marks authenticate the Church (“Marks of the Church” in Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, rev. ed., Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1998). Theologians have proffered reasons on the need for signs to mark off the true Church. Prominent among these is Hans Kung for whom

In view of the many false developments, of fanaticism and heresy, even the possibility of a pseudo-Church, the question [about the marks of the Church] cannot be dismissed out of hand as improper. It is one that constantly confronts us and demands an answer …. The true Church is a believed Church and for believers; it can only be recognized for what it is through faith (Küng, H., The Church, London: Search Press, 1968, 293 – 264).
Hence the marks become something to distinguish the ideal Church from false representations. While the Catholic Church alone enjoys the marks of the true Church, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council call Catholics to respond with respect and affection to those who belong to other Christian communities, who possess some or all of these marks in varying degrees. In fact, it is Christ who through the Holy Spirit grants his Church these marks, inviting her to realize each of them as lasting qualities. The marks of the Church have been identified by the Church in the four elements as stated above: she is one, holy catholic and apostolic. The Church professes these marks solemnly in her creed, especially in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which was composed at the ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325) and amplified at the Councils of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451); and which is recited every Sunday throughout the Christian world. This creed provides a normative standard by which to measure the orthodoxy of teaching of the Church on this specific but fundamental element of her Faith. It reads: “I believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church….” These marks are inalienable characters of the church that mark the Church apart from other so-called-churches. They are different from what Avery Dulles calls his models of the Church. Since they represent the characterization of the church, whereas, by models, Dulles give us the various significations which the church can take as a mystery, a sacrament of salvation in Christ Jesus.

3.1. The Church is One
“I believe in the one…Church” reads the Nicene Creed. Challenged by many problems of division, the Fathers of the Church declared their faith in a one Church which is the Church of Christ. St. Clement of Alexandria beautifully presents this unity of the Church in these words:

what an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one logos of the universe, one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her “Church” (St. Clement of Alexandria, “Paedagogus” 6, 42, in The Catechism of the Catholic Church(CCC), Nairobi: Paulines Publilcation, 1994, p. 221).

This marks of the Church draws our attention to the fact that the Catholic Church is the one Church in which the Church of Christ subsists in. As such it contains the fullness of the means of salvation. This is a unity we believe the church will “never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time” (Vatican II Council, Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio(UR), ibid). The Church thus, is the one and only Church. This designates that unity which Christ desired for and bestowed on his Church from the beginning.

Christ desired absolute unity for His Church, a unity which should exclude all divisions, whether of government, doctrine, or worship, for he likens it to the perfect unity of the Father and the Son. Hence he prays: “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (Jn. 17:21).

Consequently, Christ compared his Church to a “sheepfold”, a “kingdom”, one in mind and Spirit under one shepherd. The Apostle, Paul also stressed the unity of the Church when he, in a remarkable way, likened it to a living body. For him,

For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many paths-all the parts of the body, though many still making up one single body-so it is with Christ. We were baptized into one body in a single Spirit. Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were give the same spirit to drink (I Cor. 12: 12 – 13).

Though of different cultures, orientations, tribes, gifts, etc, we all, in the Church, constitute one body, Christ’s body. Consequently, the Church is said to be “one” because of her source - the Holy Trinity, which is a Trinity of Persons: God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, constituting a unity (UR.2 § 5). She is also one because of her founder, Jesus Christ, who “reconciled all men to God by the cross…restoring the unity of all in one people and one body” (GS. 78 § 3). She is one because of her soul, the Holy Spirit, dwelling in all believers and so persuading and ruling over the entire Church, [bringing] about that wonderful communion of the faithful and [joining] them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity (UR.2 § 2). That is to say the Spirit enlivens, builds and unites the Church by its graces and gifts.

The Church is also one in faith for “…in his wisdom He ordained in his Church unity of faith…” (Gorman, E.O., Papal Teachings the Church, Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962, p.308). The Church above all is united in the Eucharist, where united in the Spirit all its members partake of one Body, one Blood, i.e. Christ himself that unites them in himself. Finally, the local Churches are united by its hierarchy. United under one head, Peter and his successors, the Popes, in obedience, the Church becomes a visible sign of unity, brotherhood and communion. Based on this, Pope Pius IX in his Encyclical Letter addressed to the Armenians in the context of a schism among them writes:

if, therefore, the sovereign Pontiff is called a stranger by any one of the Churches, that Church will be, in consequence, a stranger to the Apostolic See, that is, to the Catholic Church which is one (Neuner, J., and Dupuis (eds.) The Christian Faith, Bangalore: Theological Pub., 1996, p.280).

The fact that the Church as described as one, does not cancel out the possibility of diversities/divisions, according to recent theology. From the dawn of Christianity, this one Church has been marked by great diversities or divisions. This diversity is evident in the many gifts of God given Christians for the edification of the Church; the many particular/local autonomous Churches that form part of the one Church; and the many separated brothers who have one/two things in common with the Church of Christ. The Fathers of the Vatican Council II presents this situation thus:

in this one and only Church of God, from its very beginnings, there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared, and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church- for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame (UR. 3 § 1).

This not withstands St. Paul’s injunction on Christians to strive to “maintain the unity of the Spirit on the bond of peace” (cf. Eph. 4:3) is binding. But what are these bonds of peace? The bonds of peace/unity include the following elements/values: charity/love, which binds all things in perfect harmony (cf. Col.3:14); the profession of the Apostolic faith; common celebration of divine worship and the sacraments; Apostolic succession through ordination, etc (CCC.815). Above all, the Church and all Christians have a special task always to pray and work to maintain, reinforce and perfect the unity of the Church (CCC. 826).

In summary, that the Church is one means that she “acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (Eph. 4: 3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome (CCC. 866).

3.2. The Church is Holy.
“I believe in the … holy … church.”
The church is held to be holy. This for Catholic Theology is an object of faith that stems from the intrinsic relation between Christ and the church, the bride of Christ. The Fathers of Vatican Council II argued forcefully to this effect when they said:

The Church is held, as a matter of faith to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy’, loved the church as his Bride, giving himself up for his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God (L.G. 39).

This is because of that intrinsic union with Christ by which Christ sanctifies her and through her sanctifies all it’s members/the world at large. The Church is therefore characterized as a sacrament of Christ – who is all–holy – on earth to continue Christ’s singular role of sanctifying men and glorifying God. This is the sense the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians sought to proffer when he said:

Christ loved the church and sacrificed himself for her, to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with a form of words, so that when he took the Church to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or any like that but holy and faultless. (cf. Eph. 5: 25 – 27)

What all these imply is that the Most Holy God is her author and as such she is the “holy People of God”, and so her members are truly to be called saints. Hence it is in the Church “that the fullness of the means of salvation” (UR. 35). subsist and in her that “by the grace of God we acquire holiness.”( LG. 48).

It is worth noting that when we say that the Church is holy and her members saints, we do not ascribe perfection to her or her members. The mysterious paradox is that the Church is holy and perfect, even though she is made of imperfect sinners. She is the sinless one made up of sinners. Her holiness, however, shines in the saints, and in Mary she is already all-holy. Perfect holiness is something to be acquired in the members of the church, but is believed already to be in the Church in Christ Jesus. In line with this, Pope Paul VI avers:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offences, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Paul VI, “Solemn Profession of Faith: Credo of the People of God” § 19, in CCC p. 225).

Holiness, therefore, is an inalienable attribute of the church that so much relates her to her founder, Jesus Christ and also gives her the impetus to continue Christ’s mission on earth and the source of her apostolic/missionary activities. This holiness is mostly enkindled by the spirit of charity/love in her members. Hence the Vatican Council II fathers will claim that charity “governs, shapes and perfects all the means of sanctification.” (LG. 42).

3.3. The Church is Catholic
Catholicity refers to “the quality of being universal, complete or all-embracing.” (Joseph Komonchark, et al; (eds), The New Dictionary of Theology, Bangalore: Theological Publications, 2006, p.172). The term is not a biblical one, but the idea is firmly rooted in the New Testament that speaks of Church as “the fullness of him (Christ) who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:23).

Catholicity is also said to be a mark of the Church because Christ commissioned his disciples to “make disciples of all nations” and baptize them, and even destined the Church to last for all times: “Go, therefore,” He said “make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… And look, I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” (Mt.28:19-20). From the foregoing commission, it is evident that Christ assigned to his apostles the whole world as the theatre of their labour, and the entire human race without regard to language, colour, or nationality, as the audience to whom they were to preach. Hence, James Cardinal Gibbons writes:

The word Catholic, or universal, signifies that the true church is not circumscribed in its extent, like human empires, nor confined to one race of people, like the Jewish church, but that she is diffused over every nation of the globe, counts her children among all tribes and peoples and tongues of the earth (James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, New York: P.J Kennedy and Sons, 1977, p.24).

It is against this back drop that kekong Bisong outlines the following as what makes the Church Catholic when he writes: 1.Place: the church is catholic because it diffuses throughout the whole world. 2. Time: the church is catholic in time because it has always existed and will continue to exist till the end of time. 3. Peoples: the church is catholic because, it is for everybody irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, language, age, etc. 4. Condition: the church is also catholic in the condition of people. In the Catholic Church there are no distinctions between people based on sex, ethnicity, age, etc. 5. Wholeness: the church is catholic in the missionary mandate of Jesus Christ, in believing in all the commandments, administering the truth as contained in scripture and sacred tradition (Kekong Bisong, Why I am A Catholic, Enugu: Snaap Press, 2003, p.9-10).

Furthermore, St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote extensively on the catholic as mark of the Church when he says,

The church is called catholic because she is diffused throughout the whole world from one end of the earth to the other, and because she teaches universally and without curtailment all the truths of faith which ought to be known to men whether they concern visible or invisible things, heavenly things or the things of earth; further because she brings under the yoke of God’s true service all races of men, the mighty and the lowly, the learned and the simple; and finally because she tends and heals every kind of sin committed by body and soul and because there is no form of virtue, whether in word or deed or spiritual gifts of any kind whatever, which she does not possess as her own (Ibid, p.23).

However, John O’Brien maintains that the Catholic Church is catholic or universal because, it is destined to last for all time; it never fails to fulfill the Divine commandment to teach all nations all the truths revealed by God (John O’ Brien, Understanding the Catholic Faith, Notre Dome: Ave Maria Press, 1955, p.118). Consequently, catholicity or universality is exclusively the mark of the Roman Catholic Church. It is not to be found in any or in all the combined communions separated from the Roman Catholic Church that claim to be catholic.

3.4. The Church is Apostolic
The use of the term “apostolic” is not found in the bible. It has however been traced ecclesiologically back to Ignatius of Antioch. At this time, it signified “a relation of origin and similarity of the Church to the twelve and Paul” (F. Klosterman, “Apostolic” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, San Francisco: Grollier Press, 1966, p 689). It became a household term in the Patristic era, especially with the search for authenticity and canonicity. Then, it had to do with having a direct link with the apostles of Christ; (Küng H., ibid, p.443) or a relation to the Bishops. From the middle ages, religious, priests, missionaries and the lay people were called “men of the Apostles.” (F. Klostermann, op.cit).

But what really do we mean when we say that the church is apostolic? According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles. The Catechism thus presents us three ways we make reference to this apostolic foundation:

Firstly, “she was and remains built on “the foundation of the apostles,” (Eph. 2: 20; Rev. 21:14) the witness chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself (Mt. 28: 16-20; Acts 1:8).
[Secondly], “with the help of the spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the “good deposit”, the salutary word she has heard from the apostles” [and thirdly] “she continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor” (Vatican II Council, Ad Gentes, ibid, no.5).

Consequently, the Church is referred to as “Ecclesia Apostolica”. According to the scriptures, in order to carry out his mission on earth effectively and see to its continuity, after having been sent as the Father’s emissary to men, Christ called to himself many disciples and chose among these, a special twelve to be his companion and who would continue his mission while he had gone. Thus He mandated them to continue his mission (Mt. 28: 10-20). In order that this mission entrusted them might be continued after their death respecting their master’s demand, they also consigned to their immediate collaborators the duty of continuing and consolidating the work they had begun; of leading the whole flock of God in the Spirit and of further selecting other proven men to take over their ministry on their death.

This charge of transmitting their office to successors is a permanent one that should perdure with the world in order that their office and the Church might endure. These bishops happen to be the uninterrupted continuation of this apostolic succession through ordination. Hence the church teaches that:

The bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the church, in such wise that whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ (LG. 20§ 2).

This confirms the words of Henry Blichk that “the whole activity of the church is based on the Chris and extends through the apostles who are in the right position to explain Christ’s words.” (Blizkh, H., On Mission in the World, India: Sabon Publication 1987, p.201). St. Anselm presents this idea in such words as: “ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia,” “where Peter is, there is the Church.” The Church, thus, is apostolic since she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin and continues the mission/apostolate of the apostles and her founder- to spread the kingdom of God.

In sum, the church is built on a lasting foundation – “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14). She is indestructible (Mt.16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ [himself] governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the College of bishops.” (CCC.867).

4.0. Conclusion
In this work we have tried as much we can, to present the various marks of the true Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. None of these marks can characterize the church singly. They all form a network of signification that is the Church of Christ. The church of Christ, therefore, is a unity that is at the same time Catholic, apostolic, and holy. It is Catholic in perspective, apostolic in origin and holy in essence. These marks of the Church remain with her and can never be extricated from her in any way. It is the mission of the church to draw all men to this one, catholic, holy and apostolic Church. Ecumenism draws attention to the diversity of churches in the world today. Even though the Roman Catholic Church claims to possess the fullness of this Church of Christ, it still recognizes in these other “sect” as they are properly designated some of the marks in varying degrees. Hence the term “extra ecclesia nula sallus” today now takes an entirely different meaning. Who is saved and who is not saved is up to God to decide and no prerogative of the Roman Catholic Church.
That the church is “one” means that its members are united in faith, believe the same things, receive the same sacraments and are united under one authority, the Pope. That the Church is “holy” means that she is God-centered. Her teachings and worship are all of Christ and animated by the Holy Spirit. She also invites her members to holiness of life through life of the sacraments. That the Church is “catholic” means she is for all peoples of every time and place, and teaches to all people the entire doctrine of Jesus Christ. That she is “apostolic” means she represents the true, unchangeable doctrine of Jesus, as taught in the apostolic era and handed down through the Apostles’ successors, the bishops.

The New Jerusalem Bible, Study edition, London: Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 1985.

Flannery, A., (ed), Vatican Council II; The Conciliar and Post conciliar Documents, Lumen Gentium (LG), Mumbai: St. Paul’s Publication, 2007, n. 2.

____________, Unitatis Redintegratio.

____________, Ad Gentes.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nairobi: Paulines Publication, 1994, p. 221.

Blizkh, H., On Mission in the World, India: Sabon Publication 1987, p.201.
Clarkson, J. F., S.J. et al (eds),

The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, Illinois: Tan
Books and Publishers, 1973.

Gorman, E.O., Papal Teachings the Church, Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962, p.308.

James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, New York: P.J Kennedy and Sons, 1977, p.24.

John O’ Brien, Understanding the Catholic Faith, Notre Dome: Ave Maria Press, 1955, p.118.

Kekong Bisong, Why I am A Catholic, Enugu: Snaap Press, 2003, p.9-10

Küng, H., The Church, London: Search Press, 1968, 293 – 264.

Neuner, J., and Dupuis, (eds), The Christian Faith, Bangalore: Theological Publications, 1996.

Komonchak, J., et al, The New Dictionary of Theology, Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 2003

New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, San Francisco: Grolier Press, 1966, p 689).

“Marks of the Church” in Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, rev. ed., Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1998